Interim Report

Team Number: 048
School Name: Del Norte High School
Area of Science: Physics
Project Title: How Safe Are We?
Project Abstract: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/abstracts/048.html
Interim Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/interims/048.html
Final Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports/048/finalreport.html

In our project, we will determine the radius of a meteor when it reaches the ground after entering the earth's atmosphere. After entering the earth's atmosphere, the meteor will begin to burn because of friction caused by the atmosphere. With increased velocity, there will be more friction which in turn will cause more burning of the meteor. This will cause the meteor to get smaller as it plunges toward ground level of earth and will prevent some meteors from reaching ground level. Our project will discuss the path of a meteor as it enters the atmosphere. In our program we will be assuming that all meteors are a spherical shape, and we will have three variables. The first variable is the radius of the meteor before point of entry into the earth's atmosphere, the second variable is speed, and the third is angle. The speed varies as the earth's gravitational pull is changing constantly as the meteor plummets towards earth. The angle is measured from when the meteor first enters the earth's atmosphere. These will be entered at the beginning of the program and then we will calculate the radius of the meteor at impact at sea level and also at the average elevation of Albuquerque.


We have been talking with Stanislav Zabic, a student from Yugoslavia, by email who has been assisting us with the resources and formulas for this problem. He has done similar work and is knowledgeable on the subject. We have also contacted Jim Pittman recently who can help us with formulas and equations. He has worked in this field and is a scientist at Sandia Labs. He has done a simulation of an asteroid hitting earth and has been able to provide us with an approximate formula for the density of the atmosphere. Our Project Advisor, Kevin Gant, has provided us with formulas for the atmosphere and speed which increases because of gravity but decreases because of friction. He also has directed us to several books and locations of some resources and information.


We expect to estimate the size of the meteor when it enters the Earth's atmosphere, to determine how much of the mass will burn off, and to calculate how large the meteorite will be as it strikes the ground. We currently have five formulas; but as we get more in depth with our program, we may need more. We are constructing the formulas for the initial impact into the earth's atmosphere, the density of the atmosphere, the burn rate of the meteor-depending on the composition of the meteor, the impact into the earth's crust, and the speed of the meteor entering the earth's atmosphere. We are checking our program for accuracy by comparing the output information with the contact in Yugoslavia.


Our plan for solving this problem is to use a supercomputer to compute the large amount of information in the formulas. We do not know how complex the computations will be; but when they are completed, we will know how a normal computer performs in computing the data involved.


For the final presentation, we will be using data tables along with a 3D diagram that will show the results we have concluded from our research and programming.

Team Members:

Sponsoring Teacher(s):

Project Advisor:

New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge